A piece of sediment discovered by NASA’s Curiosity Rover on Sunday contained carbon — a possible trace of ancient life on the Red Planet.
Carbon is a tell-tale sign of much bigger life processes, as carbon is the building block of organisms and goes through its own carbon cycle to recycle atoms everywhere in the environment on Earth. Carbon moves from the atmosphere to the ground and then back to the atmosphere.
Thus, researchers can use carbon atoms to trace a larger story of ancient life on Mars. The Curiosity Rover first touched down on the Gale Crater on Mars in August 2021. The crater, which is 96 miles long, was created by a meteor that struck Mars’s surface roughly 3.5 billion to 3.8 billion years ago. The crater is believed to have once been a lake.